Winter can be a difficult time for older adults to get the right nutrition. Cold weather and icy driving conditions can often keep seniors from getting to the store with regularity. Many older people begin to rely increasingly on pre-packaged, preserved and processed foods for their meals as the season progresses.
That's not just expensive— it's unhealthy.
It's hard in the winter, too, because many of the fresh fruits and vegetables we enjoy in the summer aren't in the produce aisles. But even in the colder months, it is still possible to eat healthy and seasonally-appropriate.
Here are three tasty winter recipes that can help you get through the long chill and start the spring off fit and lean.
Garden Root Soup
What you need:
3 carrots, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
1 large rutabaga (may substitute 2 Russet potatoes, new potatoes or 2-3 beets), diced
1 can of tomatoes
1 can of pinto beans (may substitute any bean you desire)
1 yellow or white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 leek, chopped
1 bunch kale (may substitute 1 package frozen spinach)
8 cups vegetable stock
1.) Sweat onion, leek and garlic in a large pot (with a small amount of water) over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
2.) Add carrots, celery and rutabaga (or potatoes or beets). Continue heating on medium and stirring for about 3 minutes.
4.) Open can of beans. Place in strainer and rinse under cold, running water.
5.)Add vegetable stock, tomatoes and beans to pot. Stir. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour.
6.) Add kale (or spinach) and continue simmering on low heat for 15 minutes before serving.
This recipe makes 10 large servings.
The soup is delicious, full of essential nutrients and can be frozen for later. Try it with a slice of warmed French bread, or with a fresh-baked blueberry muffin. Perfect for a cold, snowy winter afternoon.
Radish and Cucumber Stir Fry
A lot of people forget about this little, red, cruciferous veggie. But the radish is high in potassium (essential for your muscles and heart to operate properly), and it comes into season just as temperatures begin to drop.
Try this easy-to-make stir fry dish from Health.com (we've modified it a bit here) and take advantage of the radish's tart flavor and crunchy texture!
What you'll need:
1 cup radishes, sliced
1 package of dried rice noodles
1 tablespoon canola oil
6 ounces tofu, drained and cubed (extra-firm works best)
1 large cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced
1/4 cup hoisin stir fry sauce (may substitute teriyaki or kung pao sauce)
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
3 bunches watercress, trimmed
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1.) Prepare your rice noodles in advance, according to directions on the package. Rinse under cold, running water after cooking them; set noodles aside for later.
2.) Heat canola oil in a large, non-stick skillet (or wok) over medium-high heat.
3.) Add radishes and cucumber slices. Sauté 1 minute, or until radishes become tender (test with a fork).
4.) Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, hoisin sauce (or other stir fry sauce), soy sauce and cayenne pepper. Add the cooked rice noodles. Stir vigorously to coat noodles evenly. Continue to sauté for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
5.) Turn off the range heat. Transfer noodle mix to a large bowl. Add watercress to bowl and stir. Set aside.
6.) Allow the skillet/wok to cool for a few minutes, then wipe it clean with dry paper towels. Add sesame oil to skillet/wok and heat over medium-high.
7.) Sprinkle tofu with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add tofu to the skillet and sauté 2 minutes.
8.) Serve the tofu over the rice noodle mixture. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top prior to serving.
Orange and Red Onion Salad
Here's a great little starter salad or side dish from our friends over at Cooking Light. Oranges are high in vitamin C and are in season through the long winter months. For a variation, try substituting tangerines around Christmastime, or blood oranges in January.
What you'll need:
4 oranges, sliced (or 8 tangerines sliced)
1/2 cup red onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
fresh kale or arugula (optional, if serving as a salad course)
1.) Arrange orange slices in a single layer on a platter (if serving as a salad, arrange orange slices over kale or arugula first). Top evenly with onion.
2.) Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and red pepper.
3.) Drizzle with oil. Serve immediately.
4.) For a holiday variation, substitute tangerines for the oranges and sprinkle 1/4 cup toasted, chopped walnuts over the top.
Cold weather doesn't have to mean less fresh produce.
Don't let plummeting temperatures stand in the way of good senior nutrition. Talk to your grocery store's produce manager to find out what is in season in a given week, then search the Internet for recipes that will allow you to use the fresh produce you bought in tasty dishes. Or, try the three recipes above. They'll keep your taste buds happy and the rest of your body living well.